World Cup: Paraguay’s gain is Spain’s loss.By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service
(Wednesday, June 24, 1998) -- Spain is the "Colombia" of the 1998 World Cup.
Thought by many to be a serious title contender, it finally awoke today -- but too late, failing to advance to the second round, following in the footsteps of Colombia, which crashed in 1994 despite high expectations.
Spain routed aging Bulgaria 6-1. But Paraguay -- winless in 11 international matches including six ties this year -- downed Nigeria 3-1, with the Group D champion sitting out seven starters, to clinch the runnerup berth.
"I am sad, but life goes on," Spain coach Javier Clemente said.
Paraguay, scoreless the first two World Cup matches, both draws, got a goal after 51 seconds on a header by Celso Ayala off a Francisco Arce free kick. "Finally the goal arrived," said Miguel Benitez, who went on to get the winning goal on a brilliant 22-yard shot in the 59th minute.
Nigeria quickly tied the game, and only spectacular goalkeeper by Jose Luis Chilavert kept Paraguay even the rest of the first half.
Paraguay applied the pressure most of the second half against a defense including two players from Major League Soccer -- Uche Okafor of Kansas City Wizards and Ben Iroha, formerly of (Washington) D.C. United -- that tired in the late going.
France, which went with eight new starters, won its third straight, downing second-place Denmark, 2-1, as both teams qualified from Group C.
But the big news, at least for MLS fans, came in the other contest, when Shaun Bartlett, in his first start, scored twice for South Africa in a 2-2 draw against Saudi Arabia. He formerly played with the Colorado Rapids and New York/New Jersey MetroStars.
Another former MLS regular, Doctor Khumalo of the Columbus Crew, played half of the second half.
Second round pairings: Denmark vs. Nigeria; France vs. Paraguay.
Jerry Langdon is sports editor of Gannett News Service and can be e-mailed at
Jerry Langdon is sports editor of Gannett News Service and can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
France 2, Denmark 1
France -- Fabien Barthez, Christian Karembeu, Franck Leboeuf, Marcel
Desailly, Vincent Candela, Emmanuel Petit (Alain Boghossian 65), Patrick
Vieira, Bernard Diomede, Robert Pires (Thierry Henri 72), Youri Djorkaeff,
David Trezeguet (Stephane Guivarc'h 86).
South Africa 2, Saudi Arabia 2
South Africa -- Hans Vonk, Mark Fish, Pierre Issa, Willem Jackson
(Delron Buckley 46), David Nyathi, Lucas Radebe, Helman Mkhalele, John
Moshoeu, Quinton Fortune (Doctor Khumalo 67), Shaun Bartlett, Benedict
McCarthy (Jerry Sikhosana 46).
Spain 6, Bulgaria 1
Spain -- Andoni Zubizarreta, Rafael Alkorta, Sergi, Carlos Aguilera,
Miguel Angel Nadal, Fernando Hierro, Guillermo Amor, Luis Enrique (Julen
Guerrero 70), Francisco Morientes, Alfonso (Kiko 65), Joseba Etxeberria (Raul 52).
Paraguay 3, Nigeria 1
Paraguay -- Jose Luis Chilavert, Francisco Arce, Carlos Gamarra,
Celso Ayala, Pedro Sarabia, Denis Caniza (Juan Carlos Yegros 55), Carlos
Paredes, Miguel Benitez (Roberto Acuna 68), Julio Cesar Enciso, Hugo Brizuela
(Aristides Aranda Rojas 78), Jose Cardozo.